It's for a few reasons that I've been thinking a lot about travel, lately.
Partly, it's because the last few weeks have been a haze of planes and buses, and the next few weeks like they'll be no different. Partly, it's because I've been watching Twin Peaks: The Return, which even in its first four episodes has a number of memorable car trips. And partly, it's because just two weeks ago, Ubisoft announced that we'd be getting The Crew 2 sometime in the near future.
I have what you might call a complicated relationship with The Crew, Ubisoft's attempt to match up the racing genre with their open world, constant-progress format. On one hand, it helped me to solidify my feelings about what I called the "new power fantasy" back in December of 2014:
The Crew is a prime example of the new power fantasy. If, as Rowan Kaiser has argued, the old fantasy was about having power, the new fantasy is about accumulating power. The old power fantasy was invincibility codes and infinite ammo. The new power fantasy is the feeling that you've earned your success by your hard work alone. This is the fantasy behind the guitar-riff that signifies that you've leveled up in Call of Duty multiplayer. It's the fireworks and orchestral bombast of Peggle. It's the steady return on investment in Fantasy Life. It is a power fantasy that reflects our time. We want to be reassured that our effort will pay off in the end, that progress is guaranteed, and that our achievements are fully our own. I've never seen this fantasy executed as perfectly, so seamlessly as in The Crew.
Despite being wooed by this "new" power fantasy in the moment, it's not something I'm super fond of. And for 90% of my time with The Crew, it failed to give me anything else. But then, one night,The Crew also gave me this five-hour long, cross-country roadtrip through its surreal version of America:
I say this unironically: This was one of my favorite gaming experiences of the last decade.
Once you strip away the leveling up, the story, and the, uh, racing, The Crew suddenly becomes really evocative. Its strange take on the storefronts, small towns, and metropolises of America is unlike anything else I ever saw, and the ability to plot a course through that world and explore it with a friend was more meaningful than anything else the game ever gave me.
I have doubts that The Crew 2 will lean into that particular element of the game, but hey, maybe I'll be wrong.
What I want to know in today's open thread is: What's your favorite video game road trip? Let's be broad, here, too: Yes, Final Fantasy XV might jump to mind quickly, but let's try to dig a little deeper. For what it's worth, here's my second favorite: The first time a route took me into Eve Online's unsecured 'nullsec' space. Maybe the tensest I've ever been in a game.
So, what's your favorite video game road trip? Let me know over in the forums!